Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Trying New Trains

There has been an influx of new trains to the UK rails recently. Over the past few days I've had the opportunity to check out some of the latest arrivals.

GWR class 800 (IEP)-
800008 'Sir Gareth Edwards' stands at Reading with a service for London Paddington. 13/04/2018
One of the most widely anticipated (if not controversial) new trains in the UK for a number of years are those of the Hitachi Intercity Express Programme (IEP). This fleet of trains will serve as the replacement for on the the UK's most iconic and successful trains of all time the InterCity125 HST along with other long distance train sets including the InterCity225 on the East Coast Main Line. The product of a Department for Transport specification and tender the trains have come under fire from the beginning by some of the operators who would use them, this is without mentioning the massively behind schedule and over budget scheme to electrify the Great Western Mainline.

My first IEP - 800013 standing on the blocks at Paddington. 13/04/2018
The first IEP's were constructed at Hitachi's Kasaido works in Japan with the bulk of the fleet to be assembled at a new plant at Newton Aycliffe. The first passenger run of a class 800 was in October 2017 between Bristol and London- despite some initial teething problems the trains have settled down into service on the GWR and are now being used in increasing numbers allowing the ageing HST fleet to be slowly stood down. The IEP has a lot to live up to and first impressions are of a sleek modern train which really doesn't look too bad at all. It is quickly apparent that the smart Great Western Railway livery is entirely applied with vinyls as a quick glance at doorways will easily reveal the white base colour where it has not been covered. The first trains to be delivered are 5 car class 800/0's which will run in pairs to replace an 8 + 2 HST formation. This means that catering facilities will be duplicated and both passengers and staff will be unable to walk between units. The trains for GWR are now all to be delivered as Bi-Modal since for cost reasons the complex section of electrification through Bath has now been postponed. Currently IEP's run on electric between London Paddington and Reading before switching to diesel for the journey forward. My journey was on board 800013 from Reading to Paddington, on electric traction so I cannot comment on any noise or vibration from the under-floor diesel engines.

Standard class on the class 800 IEP. 13/04/2018
The interior of the train is smart if not a little plain. Certainly the colours chosen are much brighter than the GWR HST fleet. Seating is a mix of tables for 4 and airline style seating all arranged in 2+2 format in Standard class. Power points and electric seat reservation displays are fitted throughout the train. The layout appears to be an improvement over the current HST seating arrangement (though the story may have been different had First Great Western not refurbished the HST's internally so badly in order to fit in extra seats!). This said there are still a number of seats which do not align with windows at all. As has been widely reported the seats are hard. The actual shape and size of the seats is not at all bad, but there is definitely no opportunity to sink into these seats on a long distance journey! I will not comment on the First Class interior as I did not get a chance to sample it on this short journey.

The journey from Reading to London is fast and unremarkable- perhaps as a new train should be!?

TFL Rail (to become Crossrail 'Elizabeth Line') class 345- 

345009 arrives into Romford with a Shenfield - London Liverpool St service for TfL Rail. An outgoing class 315 can be seen departing from the near platform. 14/04/2018

The majority of seating on the new 345's is longitudinal. 14/04/2018
Crossrail, the multi-billion project to build a new heavy-rail route under London, is almost upon us and will open completely in 2019. In preparation for the 'Elizabeth Line' as it will be branded the route from London Liverpool St to Shenfield has been transferred to Transport for London and will be branded 'TfL Rail'. Inheriting a fleet of ageing 1980's built class 315 EMU's this route has been first to see the new Crossrail trains, built by Bombardier and branded 'Aventra'. Built in Derby the fleet are initially being delivered in 7 car formation but will be extended to their full 9 coaches at a later date once infrastructure works are complete. Entering service in June 2017 between London and Shenfield the class 315's are now being displaced from the route.

Bays of facing seats are available in several areas. 14/04/2018
The first, and most noticeable feature of the class 345 is it's front- it is not yellow! For decades it has been compulsory for British main line stock to carry a yellow warning panel, however this rule has now been relaxed (the intensity of modern railway headlights deeming it unnecessary). The class 345 is the first train to appear without the warning panel and instead has a black front- it certainly takes some getting used to! The front end design differs significantly from artists impressions as it was amended by various stakeholders during the design phase of the cab. The AC EMU's feature 3 sets of doors per carriage for easy loading and full width gangways throughout for easy circulation through the interior space. As would be expected of any new train today the sets are fully air conditioned and are finished in a light and airy style with a purple moquette mirroring the 'Elizabeth Line' branding. Seating is a mix of longitudinal and 2+2 facing seating in some small areas. Grab rails and handles are provided in many locations for the large number of standees that these trains are expected to carry. On initially boarding 345015 at Liverpool Street the train was lightly loaded and appeared very spacious, however by Stratford a large number of passengers boarded and already all of the seats were taken (mid afternoon on a Saturday). The loss of seats when compared to the outgoing class 345's is significant with many passengers now required to stand for their journey that would have been seated before. The result is a claustrophobic feel to the train with any view out of the opposite window from the longitudinal seating blocked by people! As we have come to expect by now seat cushions were hard, but not uncomfortable.
By removing seats and adding grab-rails the standing
capacity of the class 345 is increased. 14/04/2018

Overall my view of the class 345 is a positive one, good news as a large number of 'Aventra's' have now been ordered by several other operators. It was however good to get back on a class 315 (never thought I'd say it) and at least be guaranteed a seat!

Class 345 trains are now testing on the Western part of the 'Elizabeth Line' to Reading and will being running through the Crossrail tunnels under central London from December 2018. Full Shenfield - Reading services will commence in 2019.

Monday, 2 April 2018

A weekend in the Netherlands

1740 approaches Nijkerk with a push pull DD-AR service from Zwolle to Utrecht. 24 March 2018.

Saturday 24th March

186020 prepares to depart Rotterdam Centraal with one of the frequent
Intercity Direct services to Amsterdam via the high speed line. 24/03/2018
Arrival in the Netherlands was by way of Hook of Holland and the overnight sailing from Harwich on board the Stena Hollandica. We had got a decent sleep and woke up to the call for breakfast as Holland appeared at the window. Disembarkation was around 08:30, past the site of the former Hoek van Holland Haven station which since my previous visit has closed for conversion into a metro line. There is some evidence that the line has seen some work since the NS route closed in 2017, however the proposed opening, originally scheduled for early 2018 seems to have slipped considerably. I struggled to work out what ticket I needed for the bus connection to Schidam Central but fortunately the bus driver was able to assist and advised that our ferry tickets would cover us on the bus- good start.
A VIRM EMU between Zwolle and Amersfoort. 24/03/2018
It wasn't too long before we were back on a train, and despite some reports I had heard the bus was fairly prompt and had plenty of room for all of the foot passengers off the boat. Our first train to Rotterdam was VIRM double decker unit. There was soon plenty of loco-hauled activity at Rorterdam Centraal and we enjoyed spending some time photographing them in the gloom that we had woken up to. We missed the first Inter City Direct train that we had thought about getting so instead ended up on a Breda service with a Bombadier 186.

1733 leads a DD-AR set north from Nijkerk. 24/03/2018

There are two types of locomotive up for haulage in the Netherlands; the more traditional NS class 1700 which were built from 1990 and based upon the French BB7200, and the modern Bombadier class 186 'Traxx' locos introduced in the last few years following the debacle of the failed 'Fyra' high speed service. We wanted to sample both but this would involve some travelling as the only location where both services cross over is Amsterdam.
From Breda we took another Intercity on to Eindhoven (these trains while not branded 'Intercity Direct use the same coaching stock top and tailed by Traxx locos). It was then time to hop on an EMU again to reach the capital Utrecht where we would meet up with the 1700 hauled operation.

NS 1700 locos are now undoubtedly in decline and their only 'traditional' hauled workings are the IC Berlin trains between Amsterdam and Bad Bentheim (where DB traction takes over). A handful do however still operate on push-pull 'Sprinter' services together with DD-AR train sets.
More DDZ trains seemed to be running on the Zwolle - Utrecht service than
we thought possible by the diagrams! One such train approaches Nijkerk.
All DD-AR push-pull sets were withdrawn in the early 2010's with most coaches being refurbished and marshaled with EMU power cars to become true EMU's. However with the failure of Fyra and the ensuing traction shortage NS decided in 2013 to reactivate the stored DD-AR's which had not been overhauled and this meant bringing back the 1700 and DD-AR formation. Today these trains work local services between Utrecth and Zwolle and between Appeldorn and Almelo. There are aslo a number of DD1 workings on peak hours only between Amsterdam and Enkuizen/Haarlem. Our first target would be the Utrecht workings and would start with disappointment with the first diagram producing a DDZ (the post refurbishment motorised DD-AR). As the sun was starting to come out we took it anyway to search for a location to take some photographs and hoped to see some other push pull sets as we passed.
1736 pushes a DD-AR set towards Utrecht at Nijkerk with the local 'Sprinter' service. 24/03/2018.

Former ACTS traction at Amersfoort. 24/03/2018
The line up of old locos at Amersfoort proved too tempting and we took a quick and worthwhile pause here. Many withdrawn locos are kept in the yard and former ACTS 6703 and 1251 were also next to the station (these bringing back memories of my first trip to the Netherlands, and indeed probably my first 'rail holiday' back in 2007 for Mercier Charters 'That Which Survives' which used these two locos in conjunction with 5814, class 58038 to you and I which was at the time working in the country with ACTS).

The only diesel of the trip; DB's 6516 gets it's ballast train underway from
Amersfoort. 24/03/2018.
A ballast train was also photographed at Amersfoort before our journey continued, this time with a 1700 and DD-AR up to Nijkerk where we had found some views with potential for some good photos.

It took a while to get the pictures we wanted as these trains are far from predictable. Despite the 'Sprinter' running every 30 minutes many of the trains had DDZ's on them, and many of those with a loco had it at the wrong end. Eventually we got what we wanted and it was time for a quick dash back to the station to pick up another 1700 back to Amersfoort.

1745 arrives into Amersfoort with IC146 from Berlin to Amsterdam, the NS 1700 having taken over at Bad Bentheim. 24/03/2018

We had a fairly quick connection here to make the 2 hourly international train back to Amsterdam which arrived on time with 1745 at the front. This train would get us back to Amsterdam in daylight for some photos and also to explore the city which was a new destination to myself and my companion for the weekend Rhys.
On board the IC Berlin train we sat near a couple of Dutch railway enthusiasts (they seem to be everywhere) who took great pleasure in telling us their favorite locomotives and a bit about the NS system. Certainly nice to see some enthusiasm from this young pair and all the others we bumped into.
186017 prepares to depart Amsterdam with an Intercity Direct. 24/03/2018
There was time for a few photos at Amsterdam Centraal, which is a beautiful (and giant) station, if a little difficult for photography. It was a slight surprise to be watching an IC Direct leave and watch Ian Ross and Daniel Brereton go past from the window- amazing who you can almost bump into on these trips!
A few bars and a rack of ribs finished off the night in Amsterdam (which is beautiful for those not already well aware) before heading back to our airport hotel at Hoofddorp near to Schipol Airport- city centre hotels were simply too expensive for a rail trip!

1761 passes light engine through the impressive station at Amsterdam Centraal on the evening of 24th March 2018.

Challenging photography under the dark station canopy as 186020 arrives into Amsterdam with another Intercity Direct.

Sunday 25th March
Bombadier Traxx 186040 arrives at a sunny Breda station with a
Den Haag - Eindhoven intercity service. 25/03/2018
My head was a little sore waking up in the morning, and the alarm perhaps wasn't as early as it should have been but the weather outside was lousy (and this was supposed to be the better of the two days). After a nice Holiday Inn breakfast we dragged ourselves back to the InterCity Direct network by way of Schipol and on to one of the many frequent trains via the High Speed line to Rotterdam. We had a couple of locations in mind for the day, the first of which was near to Delft Zuid. Boarding a Den Haag train from Rotterdam we once again bumped into Ian and Daniel (and were able to talk this time!), they provided the information that the sun was out in Breda, so rather than wandering around Delft we jumped on the next Eindhoven train back to make our way to the other spot at Boxtel, close to Tilburg.

186032 leads an Eindhoven bound Intercity as it approaches Boxtel. A sliver/grey class 186 can be seen on the rear. 25/03/2018

186017 leads towards Tilburg with it's train for Den Haag. 25/03/2018.
Sun was a little side on here, but at least it was shining! We didn't have a lot of time before we had to start thinking about heading back to the UK, but by taking our 'reserve' Benelux train rather than the one we really should have been on brought is about 90 minutes at this spot. Time for a couple of the InterCity Direct trains and a few freights all of which passed in pleasing light. There was a slight mishap when two trains approached at the same time from opposite directions resulting in myself falling off a fence and some rather hurried shots- Ouch! I think they just about came out ok though!
This is the one I fell off that fence for! SBB Cargo 189 288 works past Boxtel
with an intermodal service heading south. 25/03/2018.

Boxtel itself is served by local 'Sprinter' services in the hands of Talent EMU's (which I think are pretty nice as modern EMU's go), these got us to Tilburg to finally drop onto one of the might 'Koploper' Intercity trains to Breda from where it was back onto InterCity Direct to Rotterdam.
We could have saved considerable time sticking with the Koploper through to Roosendaal, however these had been terminating at Breda earlier in the day so the plan didn't work- though they did now appear to be running through.

2806 leads the Benelux train at Mechelen in Belgium. These trains are now
top and tailed (with 2804 on the rear) as they will run on the high speed line
in the Netherlands from April reversing at Breda rather than taking the old
route via Dordrecht. 25/03/2018.

It was a healthy plus for our 16:09 Benelux train from Rotterdam but I still nearly missed it by going out to photograph the station. I was wondering if I had time to get a drink when I noticed it was 16:07 and I was outside the station barriers! Fortunately the train was made still with time for a photo, but it was a little closer than I would have liked. We had been travelling on FIP coupons within the Netherlands (the barcode for the automatic gates working with no issues) but I needed to buy my ticket on from Roosendaal to Brussels which I was hoping to do on the train. This wasn't a problem... except that the conductor would not (or couldn't) sell me a ticket with my FIP discount.

The classic 'Koplopers' are very much a feature of the NS
network. 4043 is seen approaching Amersfoort. 23/04/18

I know I shouldn't really grumble too much but that's the first full price ticket in Europe I've had to buy for quite some time! Instead of going right through to Brusselles we left the Benelux at the beautifully decrepit Mechelen to pick up another loco into the capital. Clearly this is a much easier move on a weekend than it is on a Sunday! Eventually we gave up waiting a loco and settled for the refurbisehd AM75 EMU which was on an Antwerp IC service!!! I didn't know these EMU's were being refurbished and while the ancient interior will be missed it was nice to see it at least looking clean.

1924 leads it's train into Brusseles Noord. 25/03/2018
Once again we left the train at Brussels Nord hoping to pick up a loco to Zuid- again this proved more difficult that we thought, but eventually 1924 and 1914 arrived on a service to Blankenberge.

There wasn't much time left to get food (obviously avoiding 'Quick' burger) but I managed a waffle which was eaten in the Eurostar queue before boarding the 19:52 which I still believe is far too early for the last train to London. 374019/20 obliged for the non-eventful journey back to St Pancras where it was nice to see a line up of all three types of train currently in use on Eurostar services with both original and refurbished class 373's lining up with the 374.

Or course the most frustrating part of the trip was the journey from London back to Surrey with buses being provided due to a total engineering block at Wimbledon...

All in all not bad for an easy weekend away with a few decent photos and another 19 foreign locos in the book.
Another Intermodal at Boxtel with Railpool 186 457 (Leased by Captrain) at the helm heading north. 25/03/2018.

It's 186020 again this time in some sunlight at Rotterdam Centraal with another Intercity Direct service to Amsterdam. 25/03/2018

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Snow March

1st March 2018 dawned bright and with a dusting of snow in South West London. 450124 leads a morning commuter service in to Surbiton.

As March arrived in the UK and the days started to draw out, most would be forgiven for not expecting snow. However March 2018 has been unseasonably cold with two blasts of arctic weather sweeping the country bringing widespread snow (and all the travel chaos that goes with it!). In the south of the country the first bout of snow arrived overnight providing a coating by the morning of Thursday 1st March. The white stuff continued to fall across the weekend but brought with it poor light and only slight accumulations in the London area. Other areas saw much deeper snow fall with further issues caused by drifting due to the dry nature of the snow coupled with strong winds. Across many parts of the country lines were closed due to being blocked with snow and Network Rail dispatched many of their snowplows to clear routes.

A 10 car formation from Guildford to Waterloo is led into Surbiton by 5713. 01/03/18

Wearing the new South Western Railway colours 158887 calls at Basingstoke with a heavily snow encrusted service to London. 01/03/2018

444006 kicks up the powdery snow as heads towards London at speed following the second wave of snow to hit the south of the UK. Sunday 18th March 2018.

444030 makes an impresive sight kicking up snow as it heads through Potbridge (near Hook). The M3 crosses the SWML on the lower of the two bridges. The roads did not escape the travel disruption with many in this area being quite treacherous. 18/03/2018.

Despite the cold snap weekend engineering still had to take place. 66847 had been involved in a possession in the Portsmouth area and now heads through Potbridge back to Eastleigh 

450112 brightens up the bleak landscape with a Basingstoke - Waterloo service seen at Potbridge on Sunday 18th March.

Temperatures had returned to more normal levels by the second week of March however forecasts of further snow began to surface. The weather forecasters once again got it right with another dose of snow covering much of the country on Saturday 17th March. The snow continued across the weekend with accumulations of several centimeters widely across the south east by the end of Sunday. This was to be the last of the snowfall with skys clearing the following week and the snow then rapidly melting as just a few days after it fell temperatures made it to double figures. While always a challenging time for the transport industry snow is a rare commodity in the UK and certainly provided some photographic interest!

Following snow over the weekend the sun put in an appearance on Monday 19th March. As can be seen the snow has already started to melt around the stabling point at Eastleigh where 66061 shunts past some if it's competitors stabled locos.

66519 accelerates away from a crew change at Eastleigh. 19/03/2018.

Photographed from the nearby public road 57003 can be seen collecting snow within Eastleigh Works. 19/03/2018

377158 emerges from Southampton Tunnel with a Southern service. 19/03/2018

158957 passes St Denys bound for Southampton while working a Portsmouth - Cardiff service. 19/03/2018

Another view from St Denys with 66092 heading north east with a container train from the ports. 19/03/2018

Monday, 12 March 2018

One night in Bangkok... 1-2 February 2018

Friday 2nd February

4013, my first 'Shovel' GE UM12C shunts stock outside Bangkok's Hua Lampong station.

UK spec Desiros on the Suvarnabhumi Airport Link.
A very brief visit on my way to New Zealand saw me touch down with Thai Airways at Suvarnabhumi Airport around 06:30. My cunning plan to avoid jet lag by flying half way around the world straight of a night shift appeared to be paying dividends as I had had a good sleep on the plane and felt quite awake. It was a little struggle to get into Thailand as the queues at immigration were quite lengthy- anyway, nothing to do other than stand in line. Once stamped into Thailand it was a simple process to transfer to the airport rail link to the city. Having arrived into Waterloo the previous day on a class 450 it was somewhat sureal (even if expected from my research) to find myself on another UK spec Desiro on the airport link!

3rd Class on board an 'Ordinary' Thai train.
The crossing 'closed' 4402 cautiously approaches Asok.

I didn't continue the whole way through to central Bangkok as, having checked the train times online there should have been a connection onto a train on the conventional network at Asok. The Eastern Railway follows the air link for most of it's route however I chose to change here as I could also use the subway to reach my destination if the train didn't materialise. As soon as I hit street level I got my first experience of the full-on nature of Thailand. The place is bonkers with all sorts of transport pretty much everywhere and beneath the pillars of the modern airport rail link was the single meter gauge track of the Eastern Railway - no fences and in some places squeezed right next to buildings. The station was easy to find though there was nobody else waiting- a look at the departure board confirmed the train time that I had checked online so I made my way to the only building on the station, the crossing keepers cabin to attempt to buy a ticket. I couldn't, but I was directed to the correct platform for the train, and only a few minutes after the scheduled time the road barriers were lowered, the traffic did not stop, and with a green flag from the crossing keeper the train hauled by Alsthom A24C 4402 cautiously approached. As I had been expecting a DMU the loco hauled train was a pleasant surprise and I jumped on through one of the open doors. The train was well loaded, but not full and very soon a member of staff ushered me to a seat and sold me a ticket to Bangkok's main station- Hua Lampong for the princely sum of 2 bhat (around 4p). Of course I was quite happy to stand and lean out of a window, or a door, and take in the streets of Bangkok as well as the quite rateable traction.

Carriage Cleaning at Hua Lampong.
Destination boards wait their trains at Hua Lampong.

Life by the lineside -No palisade fences here!
The journey into Hua Lampong could only have been a few miles but took some 40 minutes, our progress being very slow- particularly at road crossings where it could take anything up to a few minutes to clear the road for our passage. There was a further delay outside Hua Lampong where quite a few passengers just got off onto the track anyway. Approaching the station I got my first glimpse of the locos that were top of my list for this country- the fairly ancient 1963-66 built General Electric UM12C -or as the enthusiast like to call them 'Shovel Noses'. 4013 in the older livery (which I though may have all disappeared) was shunting the station and instantly I could see, and hear, the attraction of these machines!
Alsthom AD24's have arrived into Hua Lampong and await
their next duties.

The plan of was to head straight to my hotel, drop off my bag, be a tourist for a bit and come back a to the station a little later. Of course this isn't what I did. There was a 'Shovel' shunting around, the sun was out and I had already discovered what a wonderful little rail system this was to explore. I talked my way over to the depot at the end of the station where another 'Shovel' 4038 was shunting and also got my first and only glimpse of one of the SRT 'Sprinter' units- a tag on to the BREL class 158 order at York and originally delivered in Regional Railway Express livery as nothing else had been specified!

A product of BREL York in Bangkok! A class 158 based 'Sprinter' with
inward opening slam doors, minus gangways and on narrow gauge!
I had no issue with photography at Hua Lampong (except for the difficulty with light and dark under the main trainshed) until I upset a member of staff for straying too far down the platform. I suspect he didn't like my camera as there were plenty of other people all over the track - I would now be hounded for the next 2 days by this one uniformed staff member! Hua Lampong is a fascinating place to spend a few hours with a multitude of morning loco-hauled arrivals interspersed with a few DMU's. Most trains are then shunt released and there was plenty of work to keep 4013 busy taking coaching stock to and from the yard and adding and subtracting coaches from the various trains that were coming and going from the station. The shunters were very prompt and despite considering it many times I never did manage to 'accidentally' get on any of the trains which were being shunted in order to score 4013. There is plenty of life on the platforms aside from the trains; the team who change the destination boards on the train sides to the staff wandering the platform with carts with engines on who's role seems to be to clean the trains. Elsewhere there is another platform with a large store of brake blocks presumably for carrying out necessary repairs to the stock while it lays over. While 4013 kept tempting me by sitting on trains approaching their departure time it was 4050 that would be my first sighting of a 'Shovel' working a train when it arrived with train 342 from Kaeng Khoi Junction. Finally it was time for me to leave station and head into the city to see some sights - I would be back later for my 'Shovel' ride.

Alsthom AD24C 4420 arrives into Bangkog during the morning rush.

4413 and 4005 await departure from Thon Buri for Nam Tuk. The semaphores
are the last in Bangkok but are no longer functional.
Having taken my first trip on the Chao Prahya River (with boats at least as bonkers as the trains), wandered around the Grand Palace and found myself some street food for lunch I made my way across the river to Thon Buri station- a much smaller terminus in the west of the city. I knew I had missed the 13:05 departure, which according to the gen I had seen is a good bet for a 'Shovel', but this still left the 13:55, which I also believed should be a good bet. I had a little time so went to explore the depot which is home to Thailand's collection of steam locomotives as well as several diesels undergoing maintenance.

'Shovel' 40xx hauls a container train through Bang Sue.

4038 assist with afternoon shunting at Hua Lampong station, Bangkok.
Back at the station 4013 and 4005 had appeared in multiple to work the 13:55 to Nam Tok. I bumped into another fellow with a camera at Thon Buri, and was pleased to chat to Colin, a loco driver form Australia. We both brought our tickets to Taling Chan Junction for 100 bhat (I never quite worked out why this train was so expensive compared to those out of Hua Lampong) and enjoyed the short journey - not much noise from the 'Shovel' unfortunately, though it was turned on. We hadn't checked the onward connection from Taling Chan back to Bangkok and it therefore wasn't a huge surprise that there was no train for several hours. A taxi was coaxed into taking us to Bang Sue and was no trouble once we had persuaded him where we were going with a little help from Google Translate. I left Colin here to play on the SkyTrain while I hoped for a loco hauled connection back to Hua Lampong. It wasn't to be as there is clearly a dirth of trains at off-peak times. Instead I took the full length of the metro which featured a couple of Mormon's, some American tourists and an old lady with nasal sticks up both her nostrils who was lying on the floor (A kind Thai gentleman walked her home cementing my view of the Thai's as some of the friendliest people around).

4050 at Bang Sue with 341 the 17:00 to Taeng Khoi Junction. Construction
on the new Bang Sue station can be seen to the left.
Back at Hua Lampong I had a couple of trains in mind for my 'Shovel' ride from the various trip reports that had appeared on World Rail Gen- 277 the 15:25 to Kabin Buri and 341 the 17:00 to Kaeng Khoi Junction seeming to be the most likely candidates. My metro ride had caused me to miss 277, however 341 did the trick and 4050 backed onto the train and armed with my 2 bhat ticket I took my seat (after my security friend from earlier had tried to shoo me away!). The run to Bang Sue Junction was most enjoyable, 4050 providing great entertainment with plenty of station stops and many crossings where the train once again had to pause to wait for traffic to clear. The train moved at a decent speed but it was still staggering how long it took to cover the small distance to Bang Sue. This stretch of track along with the main station at Hua Lampong is due to close in 2019 to be replaced by a new huge new station currently under construction at Bang Sue.
GE CM22-7 4555 pauses on the run in to Hua Lampong.
A quick connection was available back into the city, this time with GE CM22 4555 which also made a rateble bit of noise. With darkness falling it was time to call it a day for trains and head back out to the city.

Bangkok's Hua Lampong terminal in the city centre is due to close permanently in 2019 with trains terminating at the new Bang Sue station. The old station is planned to be converted to a railway museum. Alsthom 4123 has arrived with a passenger train as night falls on the city.

Saturday 3rd February
4040 passes the floating market at Taling Chan with 251, the
13:05 departure from Thon Buri.
This wasn't really a day for trains, but of course a few managed to creep into the schedule. My morning entertainment was to visit the floating market at Taling Chan which is adjacent to the railway out of Thon Buri. A number of trains were seen but generally I managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, eventually managing to get into position for 251 the 13:05 departure from Thon Buri. This produced 'Shovel' 4040 - with the weather being fairly gloomy it possibly wasn't worth the wait, especially as it now left me very tight to make my train back to the airport.

4017 pauses at Makkasan with 277 the 15:25 from Bangkok
to Kabin Buri. The airport express line towers above.

A boat ride back to my hotel in the Chinatown district and a hurriedly hailed Tuk-Tuk was just about quick enough for me to reach Hua Lampong for the 15:25 departure. I had intended to take the metro and Airport Rail Link back to the airport, however a quick check of the train schedules showed a train at almost the perfect time from Hua Lampong to Lat Krabang (the last station where one can connect onto the Airport Rail Link off the Eastern line), better still it turned out to my delight that the train in question was 277, one of the two I had down as a very good bet for a 'Shovel' - it was and 4017 was a great way to finish my short trip to this fantastic country. The train was packed and I spent much of it hanging out of a door - certainly a contrast would be felt when I moved from the 'old' station at Lat Krabang up into the concrete sky to board the airport Desiro. And thus my fleeting visit to Bangkok was at it's conclusion. Thanks to the gen providers and particularly those who have posted their reports to World Rail Gen.

Active GE UM12C 'Shovels' observed:

'Shovel' 4050 in the original colour scheme arrives into Bangkok Hua Lampong with train 342 from Kaeng Khoi Junction.